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Music Theory for Dummies (For Dummies)

3.71  ·  Rating Details ·  327 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
Many people grimace at the sound of music theory. It can conjure up bad memories of grade school music classes, rattle the brains of college students, and make self-taught musicians feel self-defeated. Music Theory may seem tedious and unnecessary, especially since not many people can read music. Luckily, Music Theory for Dummies shows you the fun and easy way to understan ...more
ebook, 360 pages
Published February 25th 2011 by For Dummies (first published January 1st 2007)
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I have been taking piano lessons for a month and loving it. As an adult learner I am finding the concepts incredibly interesting and have been keen to get into the theory.

My piano teacher asked me to write a tune. It turned out to be a wonderful exercise. I read the book with this tune in mind.

As a high school IT teacher I have been asked on occasion to teach beginner Flash to adult learners. I always enjoyed it as they were fun to teach but I could never follow up with an advanced class. It wa
Greg F
Apr 02, 2012 Greg F rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
As an aspiring composer, I felt that picking up a dusty copy of “Music Theory for Dummies” out of my garage was a good idea. I was mistaken. The book is a complete waste for an experienced musician, as it sticks to basic concepts such as note values, the circle of fifths, and progressions. For those who are not familiar with such concepts, researching and applying information found on the internet is far more effective, as no money is lost and a wider range of advice is received. I would only r ...more
Jan 08, 2008 Derwin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Musicians wanting to review
Although it was a good review of basic theory, I don't think this book would do a great job of teaching someone for this first time. (AKA a dummy)
Laura Talley
Jan 22, 2016 Laura Talley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good refresher!
Jan 02, 2017 Matthew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Along with online video instruction, this book allowed me to finally grasp music theory.
Andrés Diplotti
As one of the dummies this book was ostensibly written for, I can say I found it quite useful. Last week I didn't even know what a treble clef was for, or why a piano had black keys. After reading this book, I get to look at my past over the shoulder with a little sense of superiority.

I found somewhat distressing to learn that music theory seems to be choke-full with historical artifacts. Of course, that's not the book's fault: there's nothing the authors can do about it. What they do is to incl
Music Theory for Dummies pretty much covers all the basics. I wouldn't use it in a formal classroom settings, as it only lightly touches the main tenets with an attitude that almost openly says, "don't worry if you don't get all this." I do think this is a fantastic approach for someone who wants to learn theory auto-didactically (I'm thinking of adults who perhaps lament not having stronger training when they were younger or who discovered musical passing later in life). I don't, however, parti ...more
Oct 10, 2014 Ljubomir rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The book is good in the sense that it did help me understand music a bit better, but that is it.

Its target group is not at all so wide as the description claims. It would be useful mostly to aspiring guitarists. If you are one, it does have some useful reference tables and if you do not know any theory, it will make you more conscious of music and of your guitar.

This being said, the book does not offer anything you cannot find on the internet, and its content is not even well organized.
In additi
Sep 13, 2013 Gina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book fills different needs for different people. They give you a pretty good guide in the front for which sections to read for which things, and realistically I should have skipped the first few chapters, but that's not how I roll.

I had some music theory in grade school and junior high, and as I am trying to learn bass guitar now, some things were coming back to me, and I was wondering about them. The book did really well for addressing that. I understand why scales work the way they do now
Jan 06, 2015 Morgane rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was supposedly written for complete beginners on the subject. I already had a few notions of music theory before I started, and, in my opinion, this book is not clear nor "simple" enough. Music theory is a complex and vast subject, and this book makes it overly complicated for a book aimed at "dummies". I finished it but I did not learn much because some aspects are covered too quickly, and the examples do not help with the understanding since they are so complicated for beginners. May ...more
Jul 22, 2013 Dimitris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Though rather basic, the book succeeds in its goal of providing that knowledge in a straightforward way and without tedious detail. The fun diversions that come up only serve to make reading much easier and help the book hold you longer and, well, that makes for less reading sessions. With some prior knowledge the book is finished quickly (took me less than a day) and it is a good reference, albeit nothing really deep (but that is hardly the reason to read this particular book, right?)
The langua
Rifky Ferdiansyah
Buku ini adalah buku yang dapat kita baca sekali duduk. Sangat penting dan mudah dipahami, terutama buat mereka yang ingin mulai belajar musik secara serius ataupun demi kesenangan semata. Disini semua hal tentang musik dibahas. Meski tidak mendalam, tetapi cukup untuk memberikan sebuah framework dalam menilai musik terutama dalam kacamata teori praktis. Sesuai namanya, "Music Theory for Dummies" buku ini berhasil menjalankan misinya mengubah seorang dummies menjadi tidak dummies lagi.
Justin Tansey
May 11, 2016 Justin Tansey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great introduction to music theory. My goal was to have a better understanding of music, as well as be able to read music. This book satisfied my goal. I will say that it may be to your benefit to play an instrument while reading this book so you have an opportunity to practice the material. I decided to learn keyboard while reading this book because I wasn't able to apply the material otherwise.
Feb 03, 2010 Clint rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nice review of music theory concepts that I've long neglected or forgotten about. I hope that the book's material will help me in writing my own compositions, however rudimentary they may be. The CD is pretty helpful as well. Unfortunately, I dropped the edge of a nightstand on the CD and broke it in half. I'm going to try to reconstruct it by using the descriptions provided in the book and then recording the musical passages on a CD-R, using my keyboard/synthesizer and my PC.
Yee-Ning S.
Feb 19, 2014 Yee-Ning S. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
well-organized book for students beginning musical studies. could possibly be used as textbook for students at grades 4 and higher--with teacher. concepts are broadly given; fat, details, and whys generally cut out. includes very nice appendix and CD for listening, as well as recommended pieces to search out and listen to.
Ani Vardanyan
More than a year! Whoa! This should be shelved not as "read" but "learned-by-heart"! It was difficult, but finally I did it! A dummy no more! ^_^ An almost excellent book for complete beginners who are not reluctant to do some hard job and learn! =)
Michele Brown
Dec 21, 2013 Michele Brown rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have read this book twice now, and hope to get the updated copy soon. It's great but some things are not clearly enough explained for beginners.
That being said I highly recommend it to anyone involved with music
Michele Brown
Currently reading the 2nd edition which differs quite a bit from the first.

I have read this book twice now (1st Ed). It's great but some things are not clearly enough explained for beginners.
That being said I highly recommend it to anyone involved with music
Savitra Adams
Nov 09, 2012 Savitra Adams rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I putchased a BN Nook Color on Tuesday of this week, and along with resolving to read the Bible at least once through, Music Theory for Dummies was the first title I purchased, and I am learning as much about myself as I am music theory! I am thoroughly enjoying the book!
Nov 01, 2015 Dgg32 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Begin your music theory with this book. Still, I need to rework on the minor scale. In General, it is a good introductory book. But some subjects like minor and rhythm are too easily ironed over without a satisfactory explanation.
Feb 27, 2012 Tammy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book I can't put it down I have retread it like 20 times and I have learned a lot from it!
Feb 14, 2016 Wenyi rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music
The book is easy to read in very plain language. Though I did not find anything unfamiliar (I studied music since young), I would recommend it to those self-taught players.
I am using this book for reference. I read it all the way thru and now look at it when I want to clarify a point.
Reading, rereading chapters on key signatures, chord progressions, building chords. Just need to get back to practicing my guitar!
Meg Cain
Oct 12, 2008 Meg Cain rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
ha! yea thats right... well I had to start somewhere after years of neglecting my former music knowledge, and its actually really consicely written.
Oct 05, 2008 Trevor is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
This has really helped clear up a lot of my misconceptions about music from simple octaves to scales.
Jessa De asis
as a beginner, i could say that this book really helps, my only problem is some...idk some typo error or something, i had to search from the internet to confirm those errors!
Apr 30, 2016 Tyler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good read, but "the Complete Idiot's Guide to Music Theory" is MUCH MUCH better. There is a lot of essential stuff that Dummies leaves out that left me confused.
Lolo rated it it was ok
Apr 21, 2016
John rated it it was amazing
Oct 24, 2008
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“However, even the healthiest human heart skips a beat now and then, and so does music.” 0 likes
“Music theory, then, very simply, could be defined as a search for how and why music sounds right or wrong. In other words, the purpose of music theory is to explain why something sounded the way it did and how that sound can be made again.” 0 likes
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